Tuesday, February 5, 2008


We're back in Quito now, after an absolutely wonderful side-trip to Cuenca!

We had a whirlwind day yesterday... so much to share! Wow, where to begin...

Carlos, our guide, and Edy, our driver, showed us Cuenca and
some nearby villages... Both Gentlemen are absolutely delightful -- full of knowledge, totally professional and such good company.

Carlos grew up in Cuenca, knows it like the back of his hand... both he and Edy spent time in the US, Canada, UK and their English is impeccable. We started along the cobblestone streets to the city square... not many folks on the street as most are celebrating Carnaval and most businesses are closed.

This church is right on the city square... the first church on the edge of town. On the right of the pic, you'll see a huge cross... called the 'humiliation cross'. Since Cuenca didn't have a jail until the 1930's, local citizens regulated justice, by taking the bad guys to this cross for a whipping and then a trip out of town...

Cuenca was an isolated city... about 18,000 people until the 1930's, so everyone knew everyone.

First paved road to the city was built in 1960, when the population grew steadily to the current 350,000. Cuenca has 6 universities, and is considered the cultural capital of Ecuador with a strong middle class....... you can see the Spanish colonial style everywhere.

The square used to be a bull-fighting ring until 1960, when it was outlawed after a death of an unfortunate citizen.

Carlos says behind many of these doors are courtyards.

Moving on to the markets...

Crafters from Otavalo sell here, too:

Right around the corner from the market area, near the new cathedral and the construction of new vendor areas, is a tiny buildingwhen the Carmelite nuns live.

The nuns are 'cloistered', meaning they don't meet the public. In order for them to survive, they sell some goods... This wooden 'wheel' is the ingenious way for them to sell, and not see the buyers... Buyer speaks to them through the walls... nuns place the goods in one of the cubby-holes and 'turns' the wall... buyer takes the goods and places the money in the cubbyhole and spins the wall back...
The nuns also leased surrounding property for additional income.

The nuns sell soap, herbals, lotions...

Here is the new cathedral, construction started in the 1980's and isn't complete. A crack appeared on the backside and the folks are still trying to decide what to do next. Marble is from a local quarry.

More pics later, N

1 comment:

  1. Your wonderful photo's of the Architecture, markets and people in Cuenca, really give me a sense of Ecuador.
    Reminds me strongly of Puerto Rico where I lived for four years. The similarity is not surprising, considering the Spanish influence.
    The old Carmelite convent in San Juan had been turned into a hotel and restaurant. I confess, I always booked a table on the old altar. The Carmelites took a vow of silence. I wonder if that is still in effect?
    Just love your blog. Thank you for taking the time to share your trip with us.
    Safe journey home.